January 19, 2001, 12:00 AM

Study Shows Top Web Sites Improving Customer Response

Don Davis

Editor in Chief

The gap is widening between the customer service at winning web sites and the also-rans in a just-released update of One to One Online, an ongoing study of best practices on the web conducted by Stamford, Coon-based Peppers and Rogers Group. Of the 400 sites surveyed, top-rated web sites ö only 25% of those audited -- answered customer email queries within two hours. About 45% of the sites had unacceptably slow email service response, while 21% of them didnât respond to customer email queries at all. In other findings, the number of sites using "one-click" ordering to cut shopping cart abandonment rates more than doubled since the previous study in February ö to 45% from 20%. Top retailers also are also embracing the merging of in-store and web-based activities, with 65% of sites for companies with brick and mortar stores now giving consumers the option to buy or return items selected online to the stores ö almost triple the 22% who did so in February. "Itâs amazing to see why certain web sites are so far ahead of others," says Jonathan Brookner, the studyâs research director at Peppers and Rogers Group. "Simply put, they provide their customers with what they want, in a way that is user friendly."

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